Peace And Grace For A Mind That’s Been Through A Lot.

So I didn’t think I’d be coming down to my basement to write, but sometimes plans change and you have to prioritize. Especially when you’re getting that shoulder tap again.

Many individuals have been on my heart and mind lately, and I’ve been wondering how they’re doing and for some of them I know how they’re doing and the prospect doesn’t seem rosy. Before I start I pray that you’d be given a time of quiet and peace as you read this, because He’s good, He does respond to your prayer and petition, and He’s kind. And it’s in His kindness to show you some things and draw you out of dark places that you’ve fallen into or dug yourself into.

Before writing this post I was wondering if I would be limiting the material by going from a personal stand point, but after some thought and prayer, I’m feeling pretty confident that this won’t be the case.

In a time of things going wrong, what do you call a room that one is permitted to enter, but not permitted to leave?

 

a prison cell.

After years and years, many mistakes, many mishaps, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the grace I have for myself is NO WHERE NEAR sufficient to the grace I need. When things go wrong because I’ve made an error in judgement or things are crumbling through my hands despite much thought about all the outcomes, I cease up and lock down. It looks a lot like not caring for appearance, forgetting to eat, overindulging in eating, general apathy, overly emotional times, catastrophizing, shutting people out, or spilling my guts all over them. There’s just no sense of moderation anymore because my perception is that I’ve lost all control NOT that things are out of control around me.

So what do I do?

I lock myself in my head. Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks. I think about all the things that went wrong. Try to piece events and faces and facts and intuitions together and try to make sense of it all and see if it could’ve gone differently. And almost always, there’s some level of berating myself for either not seeing it coming or for not doing better. The overthinking was intense enough that it would keep me up for days. Or weeks.

Spoiler: I’d get no where with my thinking. The incident still had occurred and I still just felt like junk. Even if I did manage to “make sense” of things – which was rare, it was still beyond my control to do anything or to be back in control of my surroundings (and believe me, I’d thought it through from all angles).

In essence, like that riddle suggests, I’d made my mind a prison cell. It sometimes wasn’t even intentional. I love to ponder all sorts of things over and my mind’s a safe place to do that. Please, by all means thinking things through and reflecting is not a bad thing. But if life is spiralling and your first move is to charge into your think space thinking you can somehow snatch the controls back… if life is spiralling despite your best efforts, were you really in control in the first place?

Things were going wrong all around me, and I’d entered my head and over thought and rethought and marinated and – I felt like a failure. And I was ashamed it went wrong. And I was scared that if I couldn’t understand it or make sense of it, it’d happen again. And I’d have the floor fall out from under me. Again. Sometimes, I would get so sick of thinking that I’d try and throw myself into other things but would still find myself haunted by thoughts of inadequacy. It seems that the door of the “safe” place I’d slammed shut behind me was more willing to remain closed than open up again.

I’m just gonna throw it out there, but that’s not healthy or right. The fact that I’m feeling scared, ashamed, afraid of the future and reoccurrence, or sometimes straight up hopeless that I’ll get past this because I’ve seen so much “proof” in my past and current situation that “how could it be any other way”.

Just, please. Stop. The problem is not God being mean or failing us or having it out for us or not listening. It’s that we didn’t take Him with us when we charged into our think space-turned-control-room mind. And that someone else who likes to mess with you snuck in with you while you weren’t looking. Things like being fearful, ashamed, and hopeless are not things of the Father or even of you. Yes, you hold yourself to a standard and you try to do your best, but you’re called His child for a reason. Because sometimes, children make messes or they find themselves in them. Good grief, He has grace for both scenarios. So be at peace. He’s here for us.

Have you ever seen a child try to get themselves out of a mess? Exactly. It just really doesn’t work, or it gets worse.

There’s a reason that He says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It’s because we need it. Did you get blind sided? Did it not turn out the way you planned even though you were meticulous? The things you put your trust and hope in are the things you’ll fall by.

And if you put all that trust in youself and you took matters into your own hands without Him? Then you’ll fall. If you put your trust in Him, you’ll still fall but the difference is that He’ll catch you.

It’s the most basic logic that if the world is crumbling around you, then you can’t catch yourself on anything to pull yourself back up because there’s nothing to grab.

Except Him.

It’s okay to not want to talk for a time, or to not cope well for a time, but if your history feels like it’s repeating, then maybe it’s time to start calling for help through the bars. If you feel like you can’t get out of the cycle of overthink, if you can’t stop berating yourself, if you’re intimidated or afraid or evasive, those might be red flags that your trusty think space has now become your permanent residence. It’s time to start calling for help through the bars to people you trust.

The danger of staying in the cell and not calling out for help is potential rotting. What I mean by rotting is increasing despair, intesifying beratement and belittlement of yourself, perpetual and growing self doubt and fear. The right people help protect us. They say things that might at first make us uncomfortable or cut us but at the same time that thing they say should also soothe. We need people in our lives to be honestly loving and lovingly honest and say, “hey, what you did there or what happened to you is not all there is.” Even if it was wrong. Even if it was awful. In my own life and in the lives of many others I’ve been privileged to talk to I’ve found three things. They aren’t the Bible so please do use common sense and think them through. Even test them. Please. Actually, I challenge you to.

1) people who don’t talk or aren’t willing to be told they’re wrong “rot” and their stench sends away people.

2) people who dare to get vulnerable and ask for help, like a child (because that’s what we are), receive aid.

3) God has more than enough grace for both individuals and pursues them relentlessly with His wisdom, grace, and love.

Asking for help will probably be terrifying. Asking for help might be hard and be difficult to know where to start because it means prying the door to your prison open. Ironically and unfortunately, it’s hard to find a weak spot in our strongholds even though our strongholds are against us and ARE our weak spot. But if you ask Him to, He’ll give you the confidence and discernment on where to start working away, and He’ll give you the tools, instruction, and encouragement. He’s done this once or twice.

And also, please please know He loves you and that He was never your enemy and is an ever present help in times of trouble. Invite Him in and lay down your life history and circumstances at His feet. And ask Him to show up however He wants to. Just a forewarning, you may be made really uncomfortable but I promise you it is so so worth it. And really, what have you got to lose? A cell isn’t very compatible with a comfortable lifestyle anyways.

And I pray you find peace in knowing that your life will not always be the way it is today.

 

 

Sister, I Will Abide with You.

It’s been really impressed on my heart lately the necessity of abiding with one another as women. I don’t know about you, but I sincerely cherish the women who I am blessed to be surrounded by. All of us are in a different stages of growth, and every one of us -though still in the process of sanctification- has a beauty that points towards our Redeemer and King. Masterpieces take time and hard work, deep thought and planning.

But I can’t help but feel a heaviness, because everywhere I look I see girls and women holding themselves to impossible standards. I see them critiquing each other and themselves. Things that can only lead to self destruction or the destruction of others. I’ve been guilty of measuring myself to people I don’t even know and to those that I do. I have desires on my heart that I feel like aren’t getting fulfilled fast enough or that never will be fulfilled. I doubt at times if my prayer is doing anything at all. I forfeit dreaming for the fear that if I do, I will be dreaming to no end about things that will never come to be. I stare at myself in the mirror and find myself lacking in more ways than one. I wonder why I am not accepted by some, and long to be acknowledged by others. I am simultaneously a courageous fighter and a shameful coward. I am my own relentless critic.

We were given the gift of speaking life through our words. God created by speaking things into existence, and by being made in His image, we have the gift of speaking words that can create atmospheres of peace, safety, rest, and comfort, or words that can rip down and destroy.

I bring this up because it’s come to the point of being imperative that I do. The looks shot at each other to see how the girl sitting across from you on the transit to see how she measures up has to stop. The glare across the foyer because she’s wearing something that isn’t your style needs to be questioned. The shaming of each other’s appearances is deplorable; I’m sorry, but who put you in the judgement seat of what beauty is? Have you forgotten that beauty is not outward but internal and that you condemn yourself but making yourself judge and authority?

Or what if another woman is further along than you? What if she gets engaged sooner, has a stable job, is more accomplished in an area where you are lacking? I mean, we’re talking about desires here. Things you are constantly longing for to come to be, some of which obviously may not have been mentioned in that short sentence. And not only that, but desires that you have been waiting for, praying for, patient for, worked for, hoped for and seem to be so easily handed to someone else?

This year for me has been rough. I thrive off the people I’m surrounded by and I’ve been surrounded by people that.. make me feel like a ghost. I love God, but I want to love Him more. I’m so grateful that He’s as faithful as He is because quite unfortunately I’m not as faithful as I’d like to be. As much as I’ve had people encouraging me to stay in the Word, come to small group and the like, I’ve really been craving just someone to abide with me. I’ve just been longing for someone to just.. be with me. I don’t care if there’s talking, I don’t care what we’re doing. I just want to be around someone who is choosing to hang out just because, because I’m finally realizing the beauty of how much it means to have someone actively choose to be with you rather than leave you to fend for yourself.

And I can’t honestly say I’m alone in this feeling of loneliness. Time and time again I hear from girls that they too are lonely, and only the specifics differ. So what am I doing just sitting here?

I’m feeling the weight of utmost importance that I open up and also maintain my friendships. Now that sounds kind of obvious to the point of being silly and embarrassing. But what I mean is that I’m feeling an energy build that is driving me to actively seek out and pour into the lives of the girls and women around me. Though I’ve struggled hard, I’ve been wildly blessed in some ways, so why not share the blessing? I’m not someone who even kind of has it all together (though maybe you’ve been misled so let this be me doing away with the guise), and so I can openly acknowledge that I will fail at this sometimes. But please promise me you won’t let where you are and where you want to be prevent you from reaching out to a sister who’s somewhere you want to be… because she’s struggling too in a different way and may really need someone to reach out to her and that person very well may be you. The mindset of comparison is the mindset that destroys. I’ve watched it try and happen in my friendships. I thank God I was able to notice it was happening before if did any real damage and that He gave me the courage to step out and address it. I’ve had to swallow my pride and be humbled. I’ve had to beat down feelings of entitlement, step back, and as a beautiful friend of mine said just last night “realize that people are on a different path than the one I’m on.”

But it’s so worth it. Because when evil comes a-huntin’ it’s looking for the lost, lonesome, and broken to pick off which translates to any and all of us if we don’t come together and fight for our friendships.

So how do we fight for our friendships? I became actively involved in celebrating and abiding with my friends. And honestly it was hard, because they did indeed have things working out for them in ways that I wish they were working out for me. We have desires for a reason, but we need to actively wait for them to be fulfilled and be pouring into each other while we wait. We need to abide with each other in trials. Please listen. We need to abide with each other in trials. We need to have each other’s backs. And I’m not talking some superficial click, “we’re all sisters forever can’t you tell by our selfies” sort of stuff. I’m talking about the being on the phone till late hours because a sister needs to be heard out. I’m talking about not even “joking” about a woman being anything less than beautiful. I’m talking being there when we’ve been disappointed. I’m talking holding us accountable so we can be our best selves. I’m talking about being honestly loving and lovingly honest. I’m talking opening up our homes for her to find refuge from a world that’s hunting her down because these days women are getting poached like our bones are going to be the new ivory tusk accessory or inlay. I’m talking sharing the gospel with her because she’s never had someone truly love her in her whole life. I’m talking not shaming her because she’s longing to be cherished by someone, anyone. I’m talking about being an emotional shelter for each other, pulling up two chairs, pulling out the tea and talking it out, praying together, or not saying anything at all and resting in the quiet.

And you may say gee, that sounds like a whole lot of commitment. You know what? For as many women as there are out there.. yeah. That’s a huge ton of commitment because every woman is broken in her own way. But that’s why we all need to get up and get in the fight for one another. This is not a spectator sport; consider this you being called to the frontline.

So to the lonely, the hurting, the lost, the unloved or those who feel unlovely, I have not much, but I will share it with you. I am one person and an imperfect one at that. I cannot fix you, I cannot promise you what no human can – that I’ll always be able to be here for you, but please talk to me, let’s go for tea. Or a chat. Or something.

I was filled to be emptied. So let’s go.

Sister, I will abide with you.